Maui Food and Dining

Local chefs start #MauiEatLocal for economy, health

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When seven new fast-food companies opened in Kahului and Wailuku this summer, local chefs took notice.  Local chefs banded together, forming #MauiEatLocal, a movement that encourages dining out at local restaurants.

Brian Etheredge, chef/owner of Fresh Fish Maui, Tail’s Up and Cutting Edge Catering reached out to Dania Novack, publisher of edible Hawaiian Islands magazine, with his concerns.

“When I heard about the recent fast-food takeover, I was concerned,” Etheredge says. “Not only for the health of Maui residents with this increase in processed and pre-packaged food, but for the health of the island farming community and local economy, which suffer when island-grown goods are set aside in favor of imported products.”

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Etheredge discovered that while Maui was in the early COVID-19 lockdown phase in 2020, some corporate mainland-based fast-food companies saw an opportunity to buy/lease land in Central Maui to expand their operations. While this move was not wrong or illegal, it had the effect of reducing the sales of many of Maui’s locally owned businesses, as well as putting the health of residents increasingly at risk, according to backers of the movement.

Etheredge knew that edible Hawaiian Islands would be concerned. The magazine has always championed local food producers, with the mission of sharing their stories.

“The move toward sustainability feels so important right now in these changing times,” Novack said. “We have to move away from importing 80% of our islands’ food supply, and we can do that by helping people see that they have a choice to eat locally. Making that choice has a real ripple effect, with benefits on so many levels.”

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Novack will dedicate two full pages in the 2023 winter issue to a listing of 24 local eateries, along with editorial on a circular economy related directly to food buying.

Two dozen locally owned food businesses are now on board with #MauiEatLocal to get the word out about how the simple choice of eating at a locally owned food business helps support local farms, ranchers, and fishing boats—in turn helping the local economy and residents’ health. 

Participants in the program are: Brian Etheredge, Cutting Edge Catering; Jana McMahon, Maui Private Chef; Noah Schuster, Broth Maui; Hilary Barbsy, Healthy Maui Chef; Janice and Sheldon Simeon, Tin Roof; Eliza and Jojo Vasquez, Fond; Kyle Kawakami, Maui Fresh Streatery; Katie-Belle Ely and Zach Sato, Haven’s; LeeAnn Wong, Papa’Aina; Travis Morrin, Fork & Salad; Natasha Joslin and Taylor Ponte, Kamado Maui; Isaac Bancaco, PacificO; Qiana and Michele DiBari, Sale Pepe; Yvonne and Marc McDowell, SixtyTwoMarcKet; Sean Ikeda, Shikeda Bento & Patisserie; Rob Mason, RJ Gourmet; Joy White, Joy’s Place Live; Jayse Sato, Umi Sushi Maui; Cole Hinueber, Kitoko; Joey Macadangdang, Joey’s Kitchen; Paulina and Jeremy Solyn, Nylos; Kaili and Jeff Scheer, Restaurant Marlow; and Nicky Boskoff, Star Noodle.

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Businesses were selected by their peers for inclusion based on certain criteria. The criteria to join #MauiEatLocal are as follows:

  • Must be locally owned. 
  • Must source at least 40% local in produce, protein, etc. (Two exceptions. For daily operations they do not qualify, but for special events they do qualify.)
  • Must be willing to promote through social media, be a spokesperson, and educate staff, peers and customers.
  • Must make a one-year commitment to participate. 

Etheredge and Novack encourage more local chefs and producers to get involved in the program. To apply or for more information, contact [email protected]

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